Your audio journey – Part 60 – How To Chose Headphones and Speakers for voiceover and production

On today’s Audio Journey we look at the importance of having the correct monitors. By that I don’t mean your screens (although usually the greater real estate the better), I mean your headphones or your speakers.

A lot of start up voice over artists and producers may think they can work with their favourite consumer headphones or favourite computer speakers but there’s one simple reason the won’t work – they come with coloured audio!

By coloured audio I mean consumer headphones and speakers have their own EQ presence in the audio you hear. Beats By Dre famously launched with a slogan telling you that you could now hear the music how the artist intended. If you search for the frequency response of Beats headphones you’ll see they come with a huge presence boost in both the bottom and top of the audio.

Most consumer computer speakers are the same.

I own a pair of Beats headphones, they’re great in my opinion for listening to music and I love the sound they produce. I’ll go as far as to say they’re the best consumer headphones I’ve owned in terms of their sound quality.

But they are no good for audio producers or voice over artists or indeed music producers. When you EQ any audio, or add compression, you need to be listening to an accurate representation of the audio you’re working with and for that you need a pair of monitor headphones or monitor speakers.

By using headphones intended for monitoring, or monitor speakers, you hear the audio that’s in your DAW. There is no colouring, just the audio you’re working with.

That way once you start adding EQ you know that flat curve you’re starting with in your DAW is accurately reprsented in your headphones or speakers. Every adjustment you make in your DAW is accurarely reflected in your headphones so you know when you finish your project you’re hearing the exact finished work.

If you have speakers/headphones that have been “tailored” for a listening experience you cannot possibly accurately EQ anything you’re producing as you’re starting point is not accurate.

If you’re headphones are very bass heavy you may think your mix is too muddy and cut too much bass. Equally if you have cheaper “tinny” headphones or speakers you may think your mix is short on low end and add a presence bass which then sounds great in your consumer equipment but in reality you’ve made your mix too bass heavy.

My personal choice is the Beyerdynamic DT100 headphones when I’m working. I listen to a lot of audio on my phone using Airpods, I listen to a lot of audio on my PC using my Beats but if I’m recording or producing I’ll always reach for the DT100 headphones as I know I’m starting with an exact replica of what I’m working on.